Composting is a process in which organic materials, like food scraps and plants, decompose and become a nutrient-filled substance known as compost. Compost is a natural fertilizer and soil conditioner, adding nutrients to soil and improving its structure. The process requires a balanced mix of carbon-rich materials (aka “browns”) like leaves, straw, and paper, as well as nitrogen-rich materials (aka “greens”) like food scraps, grass clippings, and coffee grounds.
Composting has a variety of benefits. It reduces landfill waste by using scraps that would traditionally be thrown out, opening up landfill space and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. It promotes the production of carbon dioxide rather than methane, which is 80x less harmful to the environment. It improves soil by acting as a fertilizer, enhancing soil structure and adding nutrients. This also reduces erosion and its effects. Compost-enriched soil also has better water-holding capacity, which conserves water resources. The increase in microbial activity that comes with composting supports nutrient cycling and improves plant life in general.
To begin composting, gather organic materials like fruit and vegetable peels, coffee grounds, eggshells, leaves, small branches, and paper. Create layers of “browns” and “greens” in a compost bin or pile. Alternate the layers as possible, aiming for a 2:! Ratio of browns to greens. Keep the pile moist but not soaking wet. Monitor the compost over time to ensure that it is decomposing correctly. Turning the compost every few weeks can help accelerate the process by distributing air and heat. When the compost is dark, crumbly, and has an earthy smell, it’s ready to use! It can be put into garden soil or added to potting mix as you wish. It’s a simple yet powerful way to support a healthier planet.
“Methane: A Crucial Opportunity in the Climate Fight.” Environmental Defense Fund, http://www.edf.org/climate/methane-crucial-opportunity-climate-fight. Accessed 26 July 2023.
“Composting at Home.” EPA, http://www.epa.gov/recycle/composting-home#:~:text=for%20Home%20Composting-,What%20is%20Composting%3F,crumbly%2C%20earthy%2Dsmelling%20material. Accessed 26 July 2023.